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Because of you

Memorial day FBEach Memorial Day, many see and hear of all the plans for parties and BBQ’s.  Some folks go to their towns parade and wave flags. I’d like to believe that sometime during all this celebrating, each and every one of us take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday.

It started in 1868 as a way to pay tribute to soldiers lost in the Civil War.  Almost every family lost someone or knew someone who lost a relative.  Just through my years, the footprint in the military has changed.  There are less soldiers due to military spending cuts.  The big push now is college for everyone.  More than half my friends have a relative who was a soldier.  Many have ancestors for whom this was created.

Maybe the word holiday is the wrong word for Memorial Day.  I know it’s listed on all the calendars as a holiday because it’s a three day weekend.  No school or work. What else to do besides celebrate a day off. And the retail world is always looking for a reason to have a sale.

For me, it is a remembrance day.  Without the men and women who decided to give their life for their country, would I have the freedom to sit this morning typing out my thoughts?  Read what others think on social media? Protest if I don’t like something? Would I be able to vote for city, county, state and national leaders?

I don’t have the “what if” answers. I do know when I visit Veterans Memorial Parks, or the Airplane Museums with my dad, I am so grateful he made it home every trip.  I get overwhelmed reading all the names on the plaques of casualties; those who didn’t come home. I have learned that just one or two tissues is not enough to walk a whole park.

I often wonder if family members attached to those names realize the impact.  Do they feel the hairs on the back of their neck tingle each time their hero’s name is read? Do they know strangers are walking around a park with tissues quietly reading each name? All these questions.  Without a doubt, these men and women paid with their lives to uphold the freedom we have today.

If you get the chance, go visit a Veterans Memorial Park. Take your family.  Most have picnic areas, and you can visit anytime.  And bring a box of tissues.



Slipping Away

sunrise in p-vegasI never really gave much thought to a “morning routine.”  In fact, I didn’t realize the correlation between Metamucil, old people and morning routine until after 50.  But this isn’t about poop irregularity.  This is about realizing too late how days slip into years. 

The youthful me used to jump out of bed with a vengeance, typically beating the alarm. Late nights didn’t matter.  I could survive for days on two or three hours of sleep each night. Mornings were well-choreographed clockwork: pee, brush teeth, grab coffee, shower, get dressed, wake up kids, more coffee, toss out food scrapes for the kids, read paper standing at kitchen table, more coffee, bark at kids to get dressed, re-dress one kid (always that one kid), everybody pee, grab school bags, empty remaining coffee in travel mug, wait with kids for bus, head to work all before 7am.  Saturdays and Sundays had similar schedules with the exception of school bags and the bus.  Get up, get fed, get moving.

Revelation: I did this shit to my kids for almost half my life and all of theirs.

I don’t have a schedule to keep anymore.  Coffee is still happening every morning, but I traded the newspaper in for reading blogs.  I stayed in pajamas most of yesterday while I sealed a bunch of artwork and posted several items online.  Sometimes I wake up by 5am, sometimes I wake up at 8am.  This morning reminded me I should have spent more time relaxing with my kids when they were young, especially on the weekends.  I really didn’t take time to enjoy days that could have been lazy.

Last night I kept the oldest grandson.  Today is teacher in-service day and he was coming over anyway.  We partied on Ritz crackers and binge watched Netflix cartoons until 10pm. I offered him coffee so he could stay up later.  (we drink coffee after school sometimes. His is mostly milk and sugar.)  With a straight face, he sincerely responded with “I can’t do that, gramma.  I’m a kid. Kids go to bed”

I told him “SO? You don’t have to tonight.  You can sleep in tomorrow.”  He was out within minutes after that.  I stayed up until 2ish and painted a little.  I guess his mother is truly a chip off the old block.  I opened my eyes to a fully dressed seven year old in matching clothes.  He had the morning cartoons on, and was waiting for the day to start. All before 7am.

I’m going to have to talk to that one child about loosening up a bit.  Before she knows it, these babies will be grown and she will wonder where all her mornings went.

Have a lazy day occasionally.  That big old world outside can wait on you while you do something you can talk about for years to come.  “Remember that day . . . ”


Croissant Buttons

Never heard of them?  Yeah, it’s a new recipe.

My daughter and I made them up today.  We were having a fabulous feast and I pulled out some refrigerator croissants in a can.  The darn things would not peal apart.  Timing was of the utmost importance after messing with the rolls for a few minutes.

Oven ready croissant buttons

So I did what most folks do in a pinch. Improvise.

I started slicing up croissant rounds. Tossed them on a baking sheet. Melted two tablespoons of butter, which I added parsley, a dash of oregano and garlic salt.  We brushed the top of each button and sprinkled parmigiana cheese just because.  Bake in a 375 for about 7 minutes.

They turned out great!  The butter gets down in the cracks with the garlic salt and herbs. Much easier than taking apart sticky dough and reforming it into a crazy triangle, too

Croissant Buttons

Unruly Sheep


sheep14:43 am
Dear sheep,

Please stop jumping over the non-existent fence by the dozens.  I’m trying to count you.   It was less than four hours ago when we started this project.  I recall the TV timer following the workflow process to the letter. Exactly one hour into our meeting the room went dark. The plan appeared to be fail-safe as I stopped recording the minutes.

Then, a mere two hours into the venture and without warning, your team changed strategy. While I applaud your efforts to push rocks up a mountain, the clacking of your hooves on the rocks diffused the forward motion.  There is simply no realistic way to measure the amount of energy wasted during the execution failure of plan A.  It seems your colleagues cannot embrace the cadence of how a collaborative effort might succeed.

To further accentuate my disdain, the herd is now fractured.  The split only ensures an apocalyptic culmination; as the goal cannot be obtained without the full host of associates focused on either one of the alternate plans.

I therefore submit this mission be aborted, and your team arrange their schedules to accommodate the next available training sessions addressing their collective behavior. Please keep them out of the weeds and on task.  We will resubmit this plan at the end of the day.

Please have one of your staff activate the coffee maker, since the birds are gathering in your field for breakfast.



The victim was covered in black burlap

Cross-acrylic on burlapI started to dig out some boards to build something today and the weather looked threatening enough that I didn’t drag out the chop saw, cord, tools and all the excessive crap needed to work with wood.  We had 7 inches of rain yesterday, and should get more through Wednesday.   Might be Friday before I get to cut stuff up.  No complaints however; Mother Nature, you just do your thing.  I can work around you, honey!

So, I made it a wonderful evening to paint.  I’ll confess there is some form of painting gear out and ready all day, every day.  Usually I hit watercolors.  Today I dug out some surplus canvas from the craft stash and a hand full of acrylics.

I grabbed a nice royal blue, wedgewood green, black and white.

Paint crates

Less than half of acrylic paint stash.

Maybe you’re wondering why just four colors?  (Hell even the kiddy pack of crayons have eight.)  It’s not for lack of choices.  I have crates of paint to choose from.   But, I figure if I can’t make something with five colors or less, I need to put my brushes away.

And now we come to the elephant in the room.   I have an unusual amount of canvas covered in black burlap.  What was I working on that I needed more than 12 black burlap covered canvases? Cause that’s whats left.  Why did I buy all this?  I don’t recall the reason it has been taking up shelf space, but I’m putting it to work this week.  So that lovely photo at the top is the product of my Sunday solitude.  If you like it, check out more Renee originals here.

Sticking with my mantra – Make something every day!
Even on Sunday with black canvas.


Fork Tender Cube Steak on the Fly

Tonight I needed a fast dinner in 40 minutes.  I made it happen!

I was planning on something easy, like sharing a pizza with my son since it’s Friday night.  Then, due to crazy circumstances, I volunteered to cook for my daughter and her two kids.


I hit up old reliable Google for “Instant Pot, cube steak.”   I have four packages in the freezer from a great BOGO deal.  Cube steak thaws quickly, too.

BINGO!!!  This recipe was second on the google recommendation list:  Instant pot cubed steak & gravy from Sidetracked Sarah.   I did add a smashed, minced clove of garlic and slivered up a small onion; mainly because there was meat in my Instant Pot.  It’s a habit. I set the Instant Pot for 15 minutes on manual, and put the rice on.  (I wanted to make a large batch of rice anyway.  Rice pudding is in my future this weekend.)

While everything was cooking, my extra appetites showed up.  We had some fabulous unplanned family time.  It’s nice to be able to change course and cook something delicious within an hour.  I couldn’t have done it with my Instant Pot.  If you don’t know what an IP is, search for it.   Talk to folks who have one.  It’s a great investment for folks who like cooking on the fly.

Great start to a weekend!




Gramma and the Po Po

police lightsI was recently accosted by the local police in our small quaint town.

I wasn’t driving.

I wasn’t even on a public road.

I was sitting in my daughter’s driveway in my car, pulled back by the garage in the shade.  The temp was over 90 degrees.  I play word games or hit Instagram or write a blog post while I wait for the school bus delivering the seven year old grandchild.

So two police cars show up a couple houses down and officers start looking in car windows.  Apparently, no one is home or coming out to see if they need assistance.  I see them trying to back out and continue with my game.

In my peripheral vision, I see movement and look up.  Both officers are now pulled in and coming towards me.  One little shit unsnaps his gun strap.  Oh really!?!  The tall one is silent, while the fun-sized one does all the talking.  (I can say fun-sized because at my full height of 5’1” I can look this guy in eye)

“I need your driver’s license.”  (he starts calling it in)
“Do I live here?”  No
“Do I know who lives here?”  Yes
“What are you doing here?” Picking up my grandchild from the bus.  This is my daughter’s house.
“What is her name?”  I tell him her name.
“I haven’t seen you here before.  How often are you here?”  Monday through Friday, 3:00 to 3:30pm
“I would have seen you.  How long have you been doing this?”  Since November.
“I would have noticed you.”  Officer, the only other time I have seen police on this road was three weeks ago when the kid a few houses down backed his car straight across the road into the ditch.  I sat here and watched the entire thing.  I have photos because I wrote a story and posted on a local news site to stay clear of this road for a bit.
Dispatch comes back alerting him the license number is invalid.  I get my license back out and hand it to him.

My phone dings, so I grab it and check the message.  He is trying to look at the screen.  Interesting.  It’s the Mayors assistant.  I built some furniture for her and for one of her friends.  That lovely woman had impeccable timing.  She was letting me know they loved my work.

I shared the news with the wonderful officers.  And without so much as a radio message back clearing my license, they told me “everything is good, and you are free to go.”

Well, since I’m parked in a driveway, can I just stay here and wait for the kid?

I did tell them to stick around.  It was almost 3:30; they could probably generate some revenue and make the chief happy.   Bus 0705 has a habit of flying down the road well over the speed limit.  A red dodge truck with flags on each side of the bed was known to ignore the bus stop signs disregarding the safety of the kids.

I must go.  It’s 2:50 pm.  Time for my daily crime spree.